The first week of the Holyrood Archaeology field school drew to a close this Friday, and students were able to reflect on many of the techniques and skills that they been practicing. For many of our students, this is their first experience excavating, and the site of Dunsapie Hillfort has provided them with an exciting opportunity to develop their archaeological skill set.

Ellie’s Experience

The first week of holyrood field school 2022 ended with 7 trenches open, over 100 artefacts recovered, including bones, metal, glass, and more. Today, we were lucky to have a visit from Andy Heald, the managing director of AOC. Andy has great experience in Iron Age archaeology, and has excavated some fascinating Scottish sites, so was able to share some of his experience with us. During the morning, he led a class on identifying and recognising different types of artefacts. These skills will help us as we go forward in the coming weeks of the project, as we become more familiar with the different artefacts that we can expect to find. He also shared about the importance of understanding the chronology of the site you are working on. It is important to understand both the wider context of the Iron Age in Scotland, as well as the different phases of occupation and use at Holyrood Park. This session was very beneficial for developing our interpretive eye as we continue to excavate our trenches.

Katherine’s Experience

The fifth day of excavations marked the end to our first week at Dunsapie Hillfort. After just one week, we’ve accumulated nearly 100 finds!

In the morning, we were split into two groups: one to resume work in the trenches, and the other to attend a workshop given by director Andy Heald, on the importance of artefacts. We were taught methods of identifying and dating artefacts, and the significance of understanding the chronological timeline of the site. 

In the later afternoon, excavation of the trenches continued and there were lots of exciting finds of pottery, bone and teeth fragments, and we were able to put Andy’s session into practice! In particular, trench one found their first piece of pottery as they worked on outlining what is hopefully an inner wall past the rampart. This could help provide a date for the wall, if the pieces of pottery are identifiable or diagnostic pieces.

We continued to develop some of the skills that we were taught on Monday, such as how to remove the top layer of turf. A promising new trench was opened which aims to uncover the remains of a housestead. As we worked on exposing the bedrock, it became clear that even the simplest techniques we’ve learnt are going to prove invaluable in everyday excavations. 

As always, the public remained interested and engaged, and full of questions which we love to answer. Hopefully, the next week brings even more discoveries, which help to answer our research questions!

Week 1 Round Up

This week, we’ve been sharing daily posts on both instagram and twitter. Our most recent reel has been very successful – have a watch of it here! We’ll be sharing plenty more photos and reels throughout the coming weeks! Our twitter has been very active, and we’ve been sharing updates throughout the day. Be sure to follow along to find out all the news from the excavation!

Be sure to catch up on all of our students’ daily blog posts too:

Day 1 – Gabby and Yusuf

Day 2 – Alisdair and Sam

Day 3 – Nerea and Brandon

Day 4 – Olga and Elise